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The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes Toward Immigrants

48 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 6 Dec 2015

Jens Hainmueller

Stanford University - Department of Political Science; Stanford Graduate School of Business; Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 30, 2012

Abstract

A large literature has examined the factors that influence immigration attitudes. Yet prior tests have considered only a few immigrant attributes at a time, limiting their capacity to test several hypotheses simultaneously. This paper uses conjoint analysis to test the influence of nine randomized immigrant attributes in generating support for admission. Drawing on a two-wave, population-based panel survey, it demonstrates that Americans view educated immigrants in high-status jobs favorably, while they view those who lack plans to work, entered without authorization, come from Iraq, or do not speak English unfavorably. The results are consistent with norms-based and sociotropic explanations of immigration attitudes. Remarkably, Americans' preferences vary little with their education, partisanship, labor market position, ethnocentrism, or other attributes. Beneath partisan divisions over immigration lies a consensus about which immigrants to admit, a fact which points to limits in both theories emphasizing economic threats and those emphasizing cultural threats.

Keywords: immigration, attitudes, conjoint analysis, public opinion

JEL Classification: F22, F1, J15

Suggested Citation

Hainmueller, Jens and Hopkins, Daniel J., The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes Toward Immigrants (August 30, 2012). American Journal of Political Science. 59(3): 529-548. 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2106116 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2106116

Jens Hainmueller (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~jhain/

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

30 Alta Road
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.danhopkins.org

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